Stress Reduction Tips For Dogs And Vet Visits

Taking your dog in for required vaccinations is a necessary task for the responsible pet owner. Unfortunately, it can also be a difficult task if your dog stresses out at the sight of the vet's office. Don't use stress as a reason to skip these important appointments, though, since your dog's health depends on proper vaccinations. Instead, use some of the following strategies to help alleviate or even eliminate the stress.

Tip #1: Try Mat Training

Mat training can be the single most effective tool to calming your dog during stressful situations. Any type of non-slip mat works, including exercise mats or bathroom rugs. The basic procedure requires training your dog to follow the command "got to your mat" or just plain "mat." During training, reward your dog with praise and treats each time they succeed. When your dog is feeling stresses, such as at the vet's office, lay down their mat and give the command. Once they are on the mat, give them a comfort item, such as a chew toy or treat. You can even lay the mat on the exam table so it instantly becomes the familiar "safe" place that your dog knows.

Tip #2: Schedule Early Appointments

Getting to the vet's first thing in the morning means the waiting room will be relatively empty and won't have collected the odors of a multitude of animals, some of which may have been sick or stressed. This relatively clean slate can help minimize some of your dog's stress. Avoid lunch time or afternoon appointments, since these are usually busy times because people can schedule these times around work schedules more easily.

Tip #3: Make Friends

Much of your dog's fear can be alleviated if you have extra time to make friends with the vet. When scheduling your appointment, let the office staff know your dog suffers from vet anxiety and you would like to take the appointment a little slowly. Then, when meeting with the vet, bring along treats or a favorite toy so the vet can spend a few minutes bonding with your dog. Once the shot is done, the vet can then offer more treats. This helps build a bond, so that the dog hopefully associates praise and treats, more than vaccination pain, with the vet.

Tip #4: Consider Social Calls

If your dog only sees the vet for routine exams and vaccinations, then you are probably thankful for their good health. Unfortunately, though, this means your dog may come to associate the vet with the pain of a needle poke. Make some time to visit the vet's office once in a while when you are out for a walk or on the way to the park. Simply stop in with your dog and say hi, giving the office staff a few minutes to scratch the ears. Most vets allow this, since it helps break the dog's association with the vet and shots. Contact your vet for other strategies that may work for your specific dog.